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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Four Months

Stats: 13 lbs. 6 oz. and 24 1/2" long

Firsts this month: Laughing, recognizing family members, finding her feet, rolling over

Clothes: Rockin' all of her adorable 6 month size summer dresses.

Sleeping: Like. a. champ. and I am a VERY happy Mommy. I know full well that it could end at any time without notice (hello, teething...), but until then, I'm enjoying it thoroughly.

Eating: Breastfeeding is going amazing and my supply has finally stabilized to where I can sleep through the night without being engorged. So far, pumping at work is going well and I have been able to bring home more than she's drinking while I'm gone. I'm so grateful for this buffer time between me going back to work and her going to daycare. Being able to nurse her during lunch has made the transition so much easier.

New Tricks: She absolutely loves hearing her own voice. She squeals and shrieks, then laughs at herself. What a ham already. She's also grabbing at things with better accuracy and playing with toys dangled in front of her or put in her hands. Her latest thing is arching her back or trying to pull forward to get away from wherever she is - always on the move!

Monday, July 8, 2013

I Shined My Sink

Yesterday, I posed a question to my Mom friends - for those who work full time, how do you fit in cleaning? I'll be honest, if when my house is messy its 50% due to my schedule and 50% due to the fact that I'd rather spend time with my family than clean. Simple as that. We don't have time to set aside 6 hours to deep clean the house, so we don't. Of course we do dishes and laundry and clean up after the kids, but clean the shower? Um...recently? Change the sheets? Within the last month.....ish. The word "cleaning" feels like such a mountain to tackle its easy to avoid.

The Mom friend answer? FlyLady.

My first question was probably the same as yours. WTF is FlyLady? FlyLady is a woman/genius who has developed a systematic way to clean your house by tackling small tasks each day and integrating up keep into daily routine.

My next question was, what could possibly be so revolutionary about cleaning? You'd be surprised. The way she breaks down chores makes it not only manageable, but actually motivating. She believes in baby steps, routine, and taking control of the mess.

The first step is a simple one. Shine your sink. I've never really scrubbed our sink. I mean, its the soapiest place in the house - why clean it? Turns out, it was ridiculously dirty. Using her tutorial, I scrubbed that puppy and now it really does shine!!

Her theory focuses on starting habits that string together into logical routines, eventually putting you on cleaning autopilot. It starts with a clean, shining sink. Normally, dishes would go into the sink, but instead they go directly into the dishwasher. When the dishwasher is full, it gets run. In the morning, it gets emptied and then filled throughout the day. Hand washed dishes get dried and put away.

The sink. stays. clean. WTF is that about?! With a simple rinse and towel dry before bed, it stays clean without scrubbing.

When I say it out loud it sounds ridiculous. I swear, we're not dirty people! We're normal, busy people. The sink is emptied often, but we are guilty of leaving dishes overnight or leaving the clean dishwasher full all day. Neither of which are helpful.

The thing I appreciate about this system is that its not about getting it all done at once. That can feel defeating before you even start. It's about breaking down the tasks and getting them done one by one with quick upkeep (not deep cleaning) being part of your routine. Declutter for 15 minutes? I can do that. You can do anything for 15 minutes! Wipe off the bathroom counter as I'm brushing my teeth? Easy! I'm excited to continue with the Beginner Baby Steps and get into a routine. With how much I hate cleaning, I'm looking forward to making it as quick and easy as possible.

Oh, and looking forward to waking up to a clean, shiny sink every morning.

Not too shabby for an old sink.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Countdown to Disney

Just under 4 months until our first ever family vacation! It seems like just yesterday we cracked the plan to save up and go. In reality? Almost 18 months ago. Its been a long time coming, but we're finally starting to nail down some specifics. We promised ourselves we would only go if we could pay cash for everything - no charging it and figuring it out later. Putting aside a little each paycheck has really racked up and we're almost at our goal!

Thanks to a Southwest sale, we were able to get our plane tickets for $600! And since bags fly free, that's a huge savings from what I originally budgeted for travel ($1,000 for flight and baggage) and that's always nice. The best part? Non stop flights. ::phew:: I had nightmares of running through Charlotte or Atlanta with two kids and all our luggage. Nope - two quick hours on one plane and we're there.

I've been scoping out tips and travel advice and realized there are A LOT of websites dedicated to all things Disney. Especially saving money and traveling with little kids. I've been collecting all of the good sites and posts I find on my Disney Pinterest board if you're in need of some Disney info.

From what I've read, here are some of my favorite (random) tips so far...
  • Bring or buy food to make breakfast and snacks. Save your meal plan for the bigger meals to get more bang for your buck.
  • To save on luggage space, you can buy diapers and baby food on Amazon and have them delivered to your resort. They will be available for pick up when you arrive. 
  • Bring a wearable carrier for small children since you can't use your stroller through airport security or on the Disney transportation shuttles.
  • Bring glow sticks or light up toys to distract toddlers from wanting the expensive ones sold at the fireworks show.
  • At the beginning of the day, take a picture of your kids with your cell phone. If they wander away, you will be able to show security exactly what they look like.
There are a ton more out there - books and books of them even. Thank goodness for the internet! How did our parents and grandparents plan anything?! ;-)

Another thing I wanted to do before the big trip was to try out our double stroller. We'd used it here and there, but not on a big day trip. Well, let me tell you - that thing is large and in charge. We recently went to the zoo and was able to maneuver it around the DC Metro, in the city, and around the zoo without a problem. The shades did great in the sun and, unfortunately, rain and both kids napped in their seats comfortably. Sounds Disney worthy to me! Plus, Southwest said we can gate check it without a problem, thank goodness.

We've started telling Charlie that we're going to go visit Mickey, but to be honest, I think he has no idea what we're talking about. He'll get it eventually and if not, he'll definitely get it when he's toe to toe with the big guy himself. I am beyond thrilled that this vacation is happening and can't wait to go as a family. I know chances are Charlie won't remember (and Ginny definitely won't remember), but I know he will have a blast and that's all that matters.

Remaining on the Disney check list...

Research transportation options
Save enough money to pay in cash
Buy plane tickets
Add Ginny to airfare reservations
Test out double stroller
Take off work
Book resort
Find someone to watch the dog (thanks, Mary!)
Make packing lists
GO! :-)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Back to the Grindstone: Pumping at Work

Well, hello there old friend. We meet again.

After I had C, I went back to work after about 12 weeks and though I had been pumping every now and then since he was born, work was a whole new adventure. I was no longer about pumping in case we went out to dinner and needed to leave milk with a sitter; I needed to pump so he could eat the next day. No stress or anything. Thankfully, I had an understanding employer and a pumping friendly work setting. I was able to pump and bring C breast milk for about 5 months before he weaned. I hope that my experience last time can help me breastfeed even longer this time around!

Brought to you via trial and error (and tears, spilled milk, and one ruined keyboard), here are my favorite tips and tricks for pumping at work.

Bringing the Basics

Your pump is the obvious #1 on this list. If you plan on pumping while working full time, make sure its a good double electric pump that is made to handle the work load. I have a Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote. This thing is a work horse and I'll be able to use it again this time around. There are several brands that make pumps hearty enough for full time use - ask around and do your research. Check with your insurance company to see whether they will help with the cost, but even if they won't - YES they are worth the money.

Your pump will most likely come with a cooler bag, but I like bringing something separate with more space. Other basics include flanges, connectors, tubing, storage bottles, and covers.

Point A to Point B

With all the stuff that goes into pumping, you need to figure out how to carry it around discreetly. Absolutely no need to be ashamed, but even the most confident breastfeeding Mom would probably rather not advertise at work that her "purse" is actually a breast pump. The version of the Pump in Style Advance (PISA) that I have comes in a sleek tote bag that I've gotten several compliments on and carried at work, professional conferences, and during job interviews. The pump motor is also removable so I could put it in different bag if I wanted to. The tote has plenty of room for everything I need to pump and for work, so I just use it as a purse.

This time around, I'm forgoing the tiny cooler bag that comes with the pump and am carrying the Lunch Break Thermal by My 31 as my cooler bag. There is plenty of room for everything and then some - including my lunch. This also means I have room in my pump bag for the items that would be in my purse cutting my stuff to carry from three bags (purse, pump, lunch bag) to two.

So You Forgot Your _______

At some point during your pump at work journey, you WILL have that moment where you forget something important. Hopefully, its not your entire pump (yes, I did that once). Forgetting a few pieces here and there sucks, but its normal. You just need to get creative!

I asked a bunch of Moms what their in a pinch solutions were and the most popular answer was Ziploc baggies. You can pump into them or use them with a rubber band as a bottle cover. They're easier to come across than milk storage bags in a work setting and work just fine.

What if you forget your cooler bag or icepack? If you can't get your hands on a fridge or baggie of ice, milk can safely remain at room temperature (61-79 degrees) for around 4-8 hours, depending on the temp of the room. Depending on your shift and when you pump, this may work for you. Here are more guidelines for storing breast milk from

Now lets say you do forget your pump or an important piece like flanges or connectors. If not, you may need to just hand express that day and write yourself a huge reminder Post-it for the future. Its not fun, but neither is being engorged for 8 hours.

Back Up Supplies

An easy way to avoid the panic of forgetting something important is to keep a stash of supplies in your car or desk. I always kept two bottles with caps, extra flanges, breast pads, baby wipes, and a few sample size packs of lanolin.

Another situation to be prepared for is pump/electricity failure. Its 9am and you're settling in for your first session and the power goes out. What do you do?! This has actually happened to me twice. Maybe I'm just lucky! Having a manual pump, battery pack, or car adapter will save the day....and your boobs.

General Tips

Nothing makes you want to go "moo" more than pumping. Its not relaxing or fun. Unfortunately, stress can seriously affect your supply. While its not always easy, try to create a relaxing environment wherever you pump, whether its an office, a storage room, a break room, or your car. If you have the luxury of pumping at your desk, shut your door and take advantage of the time to get things done uninterrupted. Its a great time to clean out your inbox!

Worried someone will bust on into your office mid pump? Get a rubber wedge door stop and kick it into the back of your door. It'll slow someone down enough to call out - even if they have a key.

Having supply issues while you're at work? Make sure your pump is in working order, drink lots of water, have a snack, and look at your little one. A cuddly baby is going to elicit a different response than a motor; pictures and videos of your baby can help relax you and get things going.

Keep your sessions as efficient as possible by not washing pump parts. I wipe out the flanges with a tissue and put the connectors, unwashed, in a wet bag in my cooler. The milk on them stays cold and they can be used again the next time. I wash everything when I get home. Not washing saves valuable time, especially if you're pumping during short breaks.

If you have a work wide Outlook calendar, mark off time so people know not to bother you (and that you're not just MIA). I simply write "Hold." Some people know what it means, some don't, but it helps me stay on schedule and not miss a session.

Keeping an extra power cord at work plugged in under your desk makes it easy to plug in go instead of crawling under your desk every day. Took me hitting my head several times under my desk to think of this one. Must have knocked something loose!

Resources and Links

Hands free pumping trick
Breast milk storage guidelines
US Department of Labor: Break Time for Nursing Mothers under FLSA

LLLI: Breastfeeding and the Law